Monthly Archives: April 2013

Food and recognition

So I posted previously about active and passive recognition and it sparked up a conversation between me and a fellow student. We got chatting about personal active recognition, where a manger can go out their way to recognise your work going above and beyond what’s necessary. So I was asked the question “wouldn’t you get sick of constant recognition? wouldn’t it lose it’s value?”

So it got me thinking. If there was a great manager who kept on top of everything you did and congratulated every little aspect of your role, would it get annoying?

I guess there is no hard and fast answer to this one but I do feel that recognition is a bit like food. If you gave someone a buffet meal for 20 people would it keep them fed for 20 days? 

Definitely not! They wouldn’t be able to eat and digest all that food at once and then they would go hungry by the next day. 

On this note I really enjoy food so it got me thinking about how much food relates to recognition and have come up with some thoughts….

1. Make sure recognition is digestible and regular. Grand gestures at team meetings are sometimes too much and won’t mean as much as a weekly catch up and feedback on performance. You don’t want hungry employees

2. Recognition is like a soufflé. It’s really only good as soon as it is cooked. Soon after it’s loses it’s impact and deflates all together.

3. Recognition can be like dough. You can put the recipe together, spelling out what was good or bad, but it will take time to prove and be ready for cooking.

4. Recognition is like meringue. Overdo it and you lose the integrity. It takes practice to find out when to stop and move on.

5. Recognition is like seasoning. Only needed to bring something out. Sometimes it’s bold and punchy, like chilli and ginger, or it can be more subtle. It has to compliment the situation.

6. Recognition is like wine. Celebrating the end result but also knowing how the grapes improve through the process makes a better wine.

If you have anymore examples post them in the comments below

Tagged , , ,

Organisational R&R – Reward and Recognition

So we all enjoy a bit of R&R, rest and relaxation. It reenergises us and gives us time to think about where we are at in life. Some do it by lying on a beach, some enjoy a great meal and some go skydiving. However you do it, it’s something to look forward to.

Now an organisation is never going to have time to sit back and take in the view otherwise it’s not producing. And we all know what happens then……

So how do we reenergise our employees? With some reward and recognition, the other R&R.

Now you are probably sitting there saying we have a great reward structure, better than our competitors. We have employee of the month, peer recognition and we celebrate our top performers at our quarterly meetings. We are good at this.

But we also have lower engagement than we would like. Our staff just aren’t on board and putting them on watch before we get rid of them. So I ask is your reward and recognition culture working?

We have reward buffets which allow employees to pick a reward that is most engaging to them. We ask staff to celebrate their colleagues to build team working. We give them a great christmas bonus. Well if your staff still aren’t satisfied then they need to man up as their isn’t much else you can afford to do.

For me, reward and recognition can be defined on two continuums: active or passive, personal and organisational



Ok so this may seem like a generalisation but bear with me. Now on the personal/organisational continuum the reward or recognition can either come from the organisation, through policies and initiatives, or personal, through your line-manager or someone else more senior and possibly from peers if the culture is right. Passive reward and recognition is determined by the controlling party, the management or organisational policy recognises good performance. Active recognition is determined by the actions of the employee, if they out perform, the manager or organisation then seek to recognise it. 

Now active and passive recognition may both seem like part of the same process. So to break down this even more let’s take a look at each quadrant.

Passive organisational R&R – made up of reward structures, compensation and benefits, hierarchical promotion. Most practiced way for organisations to control the performance of their employees. Your employee gets rewarded for the long slog. If they miss one bit however, they miss out on all of it. Not the most engaging and not for everyone.

Active organisational R&R – during the current financial climate this is the most expensive and least likely to happen. Employee makes a substantial contribution and the organisation makes a promotion happen for them, creates a role, goes outside the regular benefits plan. If you’ve ever watched undercover boss, this is what happens there.

Both of these practices are great safety nets and standards to lure employees in. Day to day however, they don’t have much impact which is where the personal comes in.

Passive personal – now as a manager you already do this but maybe don’t realise it. This usually happens over time, your employee gains trust by performance, you listen to them and they are the first one in your mind when a new role comes up. This one falls prey to self-promotion from staff and impression management. Know it when you see it.

Active personal – This comes down to “catch them doing something right”. Managers tend to see whats stopping the numbers coming in. Some better managers look at what is stopping a team performing. The best managers look at what the team is doing right and letting them know about it. Reinforce the positive behaviours. This one is free but can have the most power day to day. If this is reward it could be a token gift for great performance. A surprise bottle of wine or box of chocolates or use of the company’s box at the game. The important thing here is being led by your teams performance. Don’t tell them when they have done well, realise when they have contributed to success. This might be in ways you hadn’t realised before. Ask yourself what does going the extra mile entail? The more you can help them see it. The more they will want to do it.

So when you are looking at how to increase performance through reward and recognition, remember to use all the tools available to you. Then you can engage all of your staff and not just the ones who work for their christmas bonus.




Tagged , , , ,

employee empowerment and sex (that won’t get you into trouble at work)

Unless you’ve never worked or started your own business empire at 13 you have probably worked for a manager, or even worse, a boss.

Now I don’t want to display managers, or bosses, in a bad light here. But we have all worked for someone who we thought wasn’t very effective at their role. In fact I would guess most of us have worked for someone we saw as destructive in their role. So I ask myself why do we have so many bad managers out there? I think managers and staff can be summed up like sexual relationships.

A full blown monogamous “bunny-boiler” relationship or no strings attached fun.

So shoot me down for being simple but I categorise managers by how they interact with me and how much. It’s very self centred. On one hand you have the bunny-boiler who micro manages every detail of your work. It’s very claustrophobic and intense with a high stress level. And for the record this is no reflection of my relationship. You get no chance to be an individual, you are part of the couple and when things go wrong you get the blame, but you also have the opposite. The elusive manager who leaves you to it. They give you a project and are never seen again. This feels like being dropped in the middle of the atlantic ocean and being told “swim to america”. You see with this approach, it’s great that you are empowering your staff but when they are told to swim to america they might set off for the coast of Africa, or worse, the antarctic. And then when they don’t reach America both of you are pretty bummed out. This might seem like an alien concept when you think of your boss but with the bigger focus on delegation and empowerment of staff to engage, some managers who are inexperienced with delegating, may fall in to either of these categories.

But then there is another option. Friends with benefits.

Now i’m not advocating any of these sexual relationships as the best option. Everyone will have their preference. I’m not here to comment on personal lives. But in management terms this is someone who is there when you need them. They give you that project, you are lost at first but you talk it through with them and you are off on your own again. If we are back swimming, they have just put a swimming lane in for you. You get to America and you are both happy with the results and they can set your next destination.

As a manager it can be hard to let go at first of responsibility to your staff but it can also be equally as difficult, if not greater, to keep an eye on something once you’ve let it go. Add to that that the staff member may not be completely equipped for the project and you see it as a development opportunity, that need to keep up to date on it, is even greater. To adapt a spiderman quote, with great empowerment, comes great responsibility. It’s like climbing plants, the higher they grow from their original position, the more supports they need in place.

So when you are thinking about how much responsibility to give your staff, just think of spiderman, sex and swimming.

%d bloggers like this: